Operating a service desk can be stressful. You must balance a constant barrage of requests, escalations, your team’s stress level, skills and interests, budget, management goals, and all of the vendors and technology that are required to keep service delivery happening optimally.
So, what if you could bring your stress level down a bit and still ensure that operations moved smoothly – if not better than ever? Process management is the solution.
Certainly, you’re familiar with processes. In a simplified way, they are the step-by-step instructions for how work gets done, and they define the steps to be taken when decisions are needed. Together, these steps ensure that work happens from start to finish in the best way possible, with all of the right people being involved.
When you document your processes and your team begins to use them, amazing things start to happen:
Plus, because customers get solutions more quickly, they are far more happy with their service desk experience.
Service gets faster and better, so customers become happier.
When there are clear instructions for how to complete tasks and how to get answers when needed, work flows smoothly. People are able to tackle tasks far more quickly and with fewer errors. They simply know what to do next, do it and move the task along to its next step. This gives customers confidence in your team, making them feel like agents are well versed in how your company works and how to fix their issues. Plus, because customers get solutions more quickly, they are far more happy with their service desk experience.
Agents are less likely to be overwhelmed/overworked.
There’s nothing worse than being tasked with an unclear assignment or too many assignments. Both situations make agents feel badly about their performance: They might feel guilty, unqualified, not useful or unhelpful simply because they don’t know how to complete a task – or because they have too many tasks to give each the needed focus.
Processes, however, clearly define what needs to be done: Agents know exactly what to do when. And, processes can even be used to monitor the number or type of requests that agents have at one time. Agents feel more in control when clear processes are being used.
Expectations can be more easily communicated.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone genuinely believed that they had completed a task, yet you felt like there was work left to be done?
Let’s say a laptop replacement needed to be completed for a customer. Perhaps your agent configured the laptop, moved the customer’s data to the new machine, and handed it over with a smile. The customer was happy, and the agent felt like it was a job well done. BUT, as the manager, you were expecting that the CMDB would also be updated, the broken laptop would be sent for repair and the expense incurred would be passed along to the finance team, so in your mind the job was not finished satisfactorily.
If, instead, all of these smaller tasks were documented and defined by a “laptop replacement process,” your agent would have known exactly what was expected to complete the task. The customer would still be happy, the agent would still be happy, and you would also be happy.
Clearly defined processes can help to smooth the transition from one tool to the next by helping people recognize what will stay the same and how they will need to adapt.
Changes become less scary and are adapted to more quickly.
Today’s world changes constantly. What was once cutting-edge technology is obsolete in a couple of years. This means that the business is constantly adapting to change too. Clearly defined processes can help to smooth the transition from one tool to the next by helping people recognize what will stay the same and how they will need to adapt. If you’re automating your processes, it may even be that changes happen “behind the scenes” without anyone having to adjust their day-to-day work at all.
Getting management or stakeholder buy-in becomes easier.
Processes add structure to daily work. When implemented, and especially when automated, processes help to define who is doing what, when and for how long. As this data is captured, it becomes much simpler to pull reports and document statistics like number of tickets, missed SLAs, or cost. Then, when you make a proposal for something, such as needing more staff or replacing equipment, the quantifiable data you are able to share with decision makers means that it is far simpler for them to agree with your request.
So, clearly there are many benefits to outlining how work is to be completed in the form of processes. But, don’t stop there. Now that these workflows have been documented, investigate ways to automate them. Automation moves tasks and requests through the processes you’ve defined even more fluidly because there’s no time lost waiting for people to take action and there are fewer points where people must intervene (risking mistakes). When automated, work simply keeps on moving and all of the benefits noted above become even easier to achieve.
With modifiable built-in ITIL® processes or custom-designed processes to suit your unique use case, OTRS is a tool that allows service desks to automate their business processes. If you’d like to talk about automating your service desk processes, let me know. Or, if you’ll be at SDI19UIO in Ecuador on October 1, let’s plan a time to talk in person.